Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Huntington Gardens

The Huntington Library and Gardens is located in Pasadena, CA. I don't know if anyone even goes there for the library, but the gardens are INCREDIBLE. It was one of the most picturesque places I've ever seen. There are about twenty different gardens, including lily ponds, bamboo clusters, a statue garden, and an Australian garden. We only saw a few of them because the place is so enormous. Here's a taste of some of the areas we walked through.
1. The cactus garden:

2. The Japanese Gardens. Now I don't really believe in Zen, nor do I even know what exactly that means, but look at the next two pictures and tell me you don't feel Zen.

Also in the Japanese Garden are some impressive koi ponds. My children nearly fell into the water about fifteen times.
3. The Chinese Garden.
Again with the Zen! Look at this peaceful place. I feel relaxed just looking at the picture.

And who is this marvelous-looking creature? I must meet her.
4. The Rose Garden.
INFORMATION FOR GOING TO THE GARDENS: Don't ever pay full price; I think it's $15 a person or something. Once a month, they have a free day. You have to have tickets for free day, but the tickets are free, and you can order them online or by phone one month before the free day. You have to be online or on the phone EXACTLY at 9 am on the day they give away tickets. Then you simply show up with your free tickets and have a great time. Every person (including infants) needs a ticket for free day. You can order up to 5 tickets for free day. Check here to see information for getting tickets for the next free day.
I recommend every SoCal resident go at least once before you leave California! Thanks, Jackie (queen of all SoCal excursions!), for the information about free day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"End of year tipping" ... are you kidding me?

This is an article I copied from Yahoo that was published for US News and World Report. Skim it and tell me if you are as flabbergasted as I am! Sorry, friends, I most certainly AM NOT going to tip my mailman $20.

The New Rules for End-of-Year Tipping

, On Tuesday November 30, 2010, 12:12 pm EST

Few rituals are more awkward than end-of-year tipping. How much do you give your trainer at the gym? What about your regular postal worker or newspaper delivery service? Or parking lot attendants? The list of potential recipients is probably longer than your holiday shopping list, but the decision about how much to spend can be much more stressful because there's so much uncertainty over how much, and who, to tip.

Here's a guide to making sure that you tip well but not wastefully--and that you still have a happy trainer, newspaper delivery person, and parking lot attendant in the new year.

Postal workers: Postal workers cannot receive any more than $20 in cash, which is an appropriate tip during the holidays, says Judith Bowman, founder of Protocol Consultants International. You can also give more personal gifts, such as baked goods or a gift certificate (under $20 in value, of course).

Personal caregivers, such as daycare teachers: Cash gifts are definitely appreciated and, in some cases, expected. Consider joining up with other parents to give each teacher $100 to $300. Think of it more as a holiday gift than a tip.

Doormen of residential buildings: Plan on giving each worker at least $20 and sometimes closer to $100, depending on the type of building and its traditions. Ask long-time residents or the building manager if you're unsure. Throughout the year, if the doorman provides extra service, such as bringing up your groceries, then tip between $5 and $10 per trip.

Cleaning service provider: Give the value of one visit. If you usually pay $100 per week, then give at least an extra $100 around the holidays.

Regular hairstylist, trainer, aesthetician, and other service providers: Similar to the cleaning service recommendation, consider giving a tip equal to the value of one visit. This guideline only applies to people you see regularly (more than once a month). Otherwise, a 20 percent tip per visit without an additional holiday boost is standard.

[For more money-saving tips, visit the U.S. News Alpha Consumer blog.]

Newspaper delivery person: A gift of between $10 and $20 or more in an envelope will help show your appreciation for all those cold and rainy mornings you can pick up your paper without getting dressed.

Garbage collectors: This thankless job often gets overlooked at tipping time, but consider giving each worker at least $20. If you leave extra garbage any time throughout the year, then leave an additional $10 to $20 for their effort.

Skycaps, porters, and hotel doormen you meet along your holiday travels: The skycap at the airport typically gets $2 to $3 per bag, says Bowman. If you are running late and they are of particular assistance, then add $1 to $2 per bag. A flat $20 goes a long way in saying "thank you." When in doubt, always tip up. As for doormen at hotels, tip anywhere from $2 to $5. For housekeeping services, tip $1 to $2 per night. There is usually a hotel-provided envelope that you can use for this purpose.

People to skip: Here's some good news for your budget. There's no need to tip the owner of an establishment (such as a hair salon), salaried staff (such as salespeople), full-service gas attendants, furniture delivery people (charges are included), or a flower delivery person, says Bowman.

Final word of advice: Tipping 10 to 15 percent is old-school, says Bowman. The new standard is 20 percent and up. And if you're a regular customer at a restaurant, you might want to consider leaving more to guarantee you get good service on each visit. After all, says Bowman, the literal translation of "to tip" is "to ensure promptness."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas early

First of all, I have to say that I'm very flustered by Blogspot. I wrote a post a week ago with a yummy recipe, and I remember pushing "publish post," but when I checked my blog yesterday, it had completely disappeared and wasn't even anywhere to be found under "edit posts" or "drafts." Weird, huh? Well, I'm not spending another 20 minutes writing that recipe again, but here goes a tirade on how early marketers begin Christmas:

Every year, I never fail to be annoyed with how early it begins. It's as soon as Halloween is over; most stores seem to completely skip over Thanksgiving. They go straight from Halloween decorations to Christmas decorations. I started seeing tv ads for "the perfect Christmas gift" and "K-Mart lawaway" a few days after Halloween. Or was it before Halloween was even over? And now the light rock radio station has already started playing Christmas music! It's not even a month before Christmas, and Thanksgiving is not till next week! It's like Thanksgiving is something to get overwith, if not skip it altogether.
It's obnoxious to me that companies have turned Christmas into a consumerist buy-fest. They've made it all about buying and getting ahead on that long Christmas shopping list and not stressing because you can now get that expensive-looking gift for 33% off. I HATE the consumerist aspect of Christmas because I know that for stores and businesses, it's all about making money.
Now, don't get me wrong. The day after Thanksgiving, I get out my Christmas tree, put up the Christmas wreath, and start listening to Christmas music. And I even enjoy being at the mall around Christmas: seeing the bustle, smelling the Christmasy scents, seeing the decorations, and generally loving the atmosphere. I LOVE Christmas. And I love to buy things for Christmas from those businesses.
But the difference is that Christmas means so much to me because of the celebration of Jesus' birth, whose life and existence on earth as a man gives my life its meaning. I enjoy giving presents to others because it's a way I show love to people I care about, a way to pass on Christ's love and his gift to me. For me, there is deep spiritual meaning in Christmas and in buying presents. For the marketers, there is no meaning apart from a bigger paycheck.
It makes me sad to think about the emptiness of that.
Perhaps I'm being too harsh here. I'd love to hear your opinions about the business side of Christmas. Do they start it too early? Is it okay for people to want to skip over Thanksgiving (whose purpose is to focus on thanking God for all of our blessings) in order to get on to a more exciting holiday that has been consumerized? Do you think Christmas has been over-consumerized?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

existing mom-brain + pregnant-brain = no brain


Pregnancy has made me so stupid. I forget to call people back; I don't give dinner a thought till 5:30 p.m.; I can't remember my own children's birthdays without really having to think about it. Here are only two examples of my recent absentmindedness (there are many more, but I've forgotten them all).
1. Sunglasses. I had a great pair ($10 from H&M) that I had for about a month. Then they somehow got lost. I have NO IDEA where, seriously, NO IDEA. I bought another pair for $12 at the pharmacy and had them about 5 days when we went to Disneyland. I took them off at the Buzz Lightyear ride and laid them next to me on the seat. And, you guessed it, I got off the ride and left them there. Luckily, when I went back half an hour later, they'd been found and I got them back. Whew.
2. Gift cards. This one is so embarrassing. This is the pinnacle of my stupidity. Last Saturday was Verano's Welcome Day, and I had to go out with other h.a.'s beforehand to solicit donations from local businesses to give away as prizes at Welcome Day. On the day, I entered all of our names into the drawing for prizes. Ethan won a prize to a gelatto place: two T-shirts and two $5 gift cards for gelatto. I was so excited! The T-shirts were rolled up with a piece of paper wrapped around them and the gift cards attached to the paper. At home, I took the papers off the shirts to show Ethan what the shirts looked like. Later, I walked by the table and saw the upside down papers on there. I thought Why did I leave that trash there on the table? I'm throwing it away. And I did. And Chad took out the recycling. Later that evening, I said, "Where are those gift cards anyway? ... OH MY GOSH! What have I done?"
I felt so upset that my amazing husband actually climbed into the recycle dumpster with a flashlight for nearly half an hour to look for them. No luck. I still can't believe I did something so stupid. There's nothing worse than throwing away money. I almost feel sick to my stomach thinking I did that.

So, now here's YOUR job. Please share with me the most absent-minded thing you did during pregnancy, or since being a mom, so that I will feel better about myself. I really need it. Thanks.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hilarious kids' answers to a question

Ethan's preschool teacher typed this up and sent a copy home to all the kids. It's REALLY funny. The funniest part is that only a few kids answered the question. They all went off on tangents that are hilarious.

Tuesday, September 28
Today we discussed how hot it was and then we talked about all the seasons. Ryder told us it is fall. Next, we read a wonderful book entitled All Falling Down by Gene Zion. All this led to our question of the day: Why do leaves fall from the trees?

Sarah: because it's a different season, like Spring. I have an avocado tree. They are really yummy. I eat avocados with sauce.

Cassidy: It's because of the wind. We don't have any trees at my house, but we have pretty white flowers.

Colin: The wind does it. Sometimes I see them fall. There are trees in the jungle, and monkeys like to live in the trees. They live at the zoo too.

Gage: Because it's hot and the leaves turn red and orange. We have a bunch of trees in our garden. It's fun to pile them up and jump on them.

Ian: It's because it got really windy. I'm going to paint a green leaf.

Ethan: The wind blows really hard. I have a tree that I can climb up. It has lots of little round things I can pick off. I can climb to the tippity top of that tree.

Shay: I'm not sure, but the wind makes them go down.

Garrett: I have a tall tree at my house, but it's the wind that makes the leaves go.

Ryder: Because it's fall and Halloween is in the fall too. I'm going to be a shark for Halloween. We can't have it at school because it starts at night time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yosemite and Sequoia

If you want to see all of the Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks pictures, go here (you have to be a friend of facebook though). Here are just a few highlights.
Monday, September 13th: left Irvine at 11 something. Drove for HOURS, stopped at Sonic for lunch!!!! It took 7 hours of driving time to arrive in Yosemite, plus 1 hour and 15 minutes of stop time for the kids. Arrived after dark at 7 something. Ate dinner at one of the Curry Village eateries, unloaded the car, and finally got to bed at around 9. Stayed in a yert (sp?) in Curry Village. The first night, I swear I heard a bear growl, then heard a horrible noise that sounded like someone being attacked and mauled by a bear. Chad says it was a recording the rangers play to scare the bears away. Heard it again later that night. Also had to get up a few times to go potty in the middle of the night, but was way too scared to walk to the bathroom, so went by the tent. The kids slept great and slept all night. Got down to about 45 degrees, COLD!
Tuesday, September 14th: Got up at 7 am, thanks kids. Didn't get going till about 10 am though. Drove to a trail head and walked the Lower Yosemite Falls hike (about 1 mile).
Then attempted Upper Yosemite Falls trail, trying only to reach the second viewpoint at 1.5 miles. That mile took TWO hours; it was very steep. Every time we stopped to rest, the kids enjoyed throwing rocks down the path.
Gave up at the 1-mile viewpoint and turned back.
On the way back down, we saw a BEAR! It was so cool to see one. It was a teenage-aged bear, we decided, only in view for about 5 seconds before he disappeared over the rocks. That made that horrible hike worthwhile. Finally made it to the bottom and rode the shuttle to El Capitan and watched the mountain climbers while the kids played in the river below. There is a man with cerebral palsy who's never walked in his life who is climbing El Capitan; I'll write about him in another post.
Cooked our own hotdogs with chili and made smores for dinner. Actually got to take a shower today!
Wednesday, September 15th: Woke up at 7:30 (yay!). Hope saw an 8-point buck just chillin by the registration center at Curry. Drove an hour to a different area of the park to hike Taft Point, a 1.2 mile walk. We took it easy on the way there and stopped a lot to climb on rocks, etc. It was a steady downhill walk. At the end of it, there is an AMAZING viewpoint from up about 7,000 feet into a valley. Very beautiful and very scary. Chad kept wanting to get close to the edge with the kids; talk about a mother's nightmare! Ate a picnic there (away from the edge!) and then started back. An extremely nice man offered to carry one of the kids for me on his shoulders; God bless him; I never would have made it back otherwise. We walked back with his group, a group of Georgians who goes hiking all over the world (e.g. Peru, Norway, Cinque Terre, etc). The group leader is named Tom (I think the last name is Dennard), who's written a book called Ramblin' Man, which I've actually heard of before! When I met him and told him that, he said he'd mail me a copy of the book! Cool. I think this is it here.
Drove back to the valley and walked to Bridalveil Falls (a really short walk), then the kids played in the brook below. Then drove back to El Capitan so I could see that guy again (he'd made progress!), and the kids got extremely dirty playing in the dust and the river below. Ate dinner back at Curry Village, took showers (aahhhh!), and went to bed.
Thursday, September 16th: Pack up our tent while the kids climbed on rocks (I think all the pants I packed for them have holes in the bums where they slid down rocks on their bottoms). Left Yosemite at about 9:30 and drove to Sequoia National Park. We stopped at scenic overlook for a break, then drove to the General Sherman hike. That was really incredible: a grove of really, really HUGE trees, and "General Sherman," the largest Sequoia tree in the world, and the largest (by density) tree in the world.

Then we drove through the rest of the park and saw more amazing trees, mountains, rivers, and other scenery. We were too late to make it to Crystal Cave though. :(
Then we drove all the way back to Irvine, FINALLY making it back after 10 pm.
It was a GREAT trip; we made lots of good memories, and the kids loved camping and being dirty and climbing on rocks. But, I'm so glad to be home!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Girls, vegetable scales, and toilet paper

First of all, I'm ashamed that it's taken me so long to write a follow-up post to my previous one. The main reason I didn't is because I posted the results of the ultrasound on facebook, so most everyone found out that way. I am EXTREMELY happy to announce that we are going to have a girl! I feel so "lucky" to be given a daughter, and I am so happy that everything on the 20-week ultrasound looks healthy and great. I truly am grateful to God for all the blessings He's given me.
The other reason I haven't posted about this is because the thought of scanning in pictures made me feel overwhelmed for some reason. But it was totally painless; I did it!
Here are some pictures of the little peanut. The first one is her footprints.
And this is her little face. If you can't tell, the chest cavity is on the left. The forehead, nose, and lips are on the right. She's kind of squished in there.
And now, some other great news. You know the fruit and veggie scales at the grocery store? Well, I found out I've been reading them wrong all these years! Yep, that's right, I've been reading the kilogram side! (what was I supposed to think; it's in red, and red attracts more attention!) No wonder all those "medium butternut squash, about 2 lbs" that I was getting for recipes always seemed underweight. And all those grapes I didn't buy because they were $1.99 a pound but weighed what I thought was 4 lbs?! Never again!
How embarrassing.
And the other interesting bit of the week is that I'm going to try more expensive toilet paper. I've always bought the cheap, lousy, thin, scratchy stuff that aggravates my hemorrhoids and that I have to use twice as much of because it's not absorbent. But, last time at Target, I forced myself to buy the pack of Angel Soft (or whatever it's called) that costs $12 instead of $8, and I can hardly wait to use it. I'll let you know about the results.
View Image

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I want a daughter very, very, very, very much. Most of you know this. But some people have been ridiculously disparaging, rude, and insensitive about my desire. Here's what various people have said about it:
"At least you won't have to pay for a girl's wedding."
"Be glad if you don't have a girl. Girls are just drama."
"As long as it's healthy, it doesn't matter what it is."
"Be careful what you wish for. My daughter was ...."
"Be grateful for what you have."
"At least you won't have to go out at buy girl stuff."
Why would people say such discouraging things about girls? And why do people tell me what I should and should not want?
I WANT to pay for a girl's wedding and be involved in helping her plan one. I WANT to go by pink and purple onesies. Yes, girls are more drama in general, but so worth it. Yes, I will be extremely grateful if my child is healthy, but does that mean I can't pine for a certain gender?
I love my two boys BEYOND MEASURE, and I'm so grateful that God has given them to me. I'm so glad that I had two boys together, close in age. I think they'll grow up close, they can share a room, they'll be less lonely with each other, etc.
But now that I'm going to have another child, I would really like to have a girl. I would really like to experience that mother-daughter relationship. Most moms I know treasure their girls and have a bond with them that is very different from the bonds with their sons. I want to experience that. I would love to pick out a girl name, and buy girl clothes, and (hopefully) still be close to her when she grows up and marries and has children. Boys generally leave their parents more than girls do.
My desire: Is it immoral or unethical to desire a daughter? Absolutely not. In the Bible, children are described as blessings to be grateful for (Matt 19:4, Mark 10:14, Mark 10:16, Psalm 127:5), and nowhere does it say or insinuate that one sex is more valuable than the other. Is it okay to be obsessed about it? No. Do I need to thank God for my blessings whether it's a boy or a girl? Absolutely. And I will ... eventually.
If I have another son, I will probably go through a grieving period because I will feel disappointed and sad not to have a daughter. I don't think that will be a bad thing. My feelings of disappointment will be valid, and I should be allowed to have them and process them so that I can get to a point where I am happy to have another little boy in my house. Even King Solomon knew that disappointments and desires are real: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life" (Prov 13:12). So, yes, if I find out it's another boy, my heart will feel sick for a short time. Please allow me these emotions and don't tell me how to feel.
I'm going on Sunday to an ultrasound school for one that costs $25. I'll post the results when I can.
Sick heart or tree of life?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sprinkled Eggs and a Belly Pic

Benji's been eating scrambled eggs for the last few mornings for breakfast. He calls them "sprinkled eggs." It's adorable, and it makes me laugh.
Secondly, here's my very first belly pic! It was taken at 14 weeks. Let me just remind you that with my first pregnancy, I was BARELY showing at 14 weeks and didn't start wearing maternity clothes till around 20 weeks. Not this time.
Also, don't forget to notice my new hair cut and color.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Over the Hill

My 30th birthday is one month away and fast approaching. I dread turning 30. It seems like it's the top of the hill and the rest of my life will be down the other side of that hill. I remember being 16 and 18 years old and seeing a 30-year old and thinking, "Wow, 30 is so old. I'm glad I'm still young." I don't feel that old, but I think the numbers are telling. And anyone who's over 30 and reading this will probably think, "Oh please, you're just a baby." But let's get real here, people. Thirty is no baby. I've been alive for 30 years. That's a really long time.
In fact, the other day, Chad said "...back when we were young and in love. Well, we're still in love, but we're not young anymore." I was washing my hands, so I flicked water on his face and said, "Speak for yourself!" But he's right.
And it's starting to show. The lines on my face aren't very bad, thanks to years of anti-aging products, but they're there. And I've got some new spider veins on my legs (that's probably more due to pregnancy, but still). And my breasts sag down half way to my belly button (that's more breastfeeding for a total of 46 months, but still).
I'm not young and spry anymore. I can't stay up much past 10 pm, and I don't like to get up the next morning. I get back pain, and my body gets tired much more quickly than it did 5 years ago. I already have high cholesterol, thanks to some bad genes and my love of butter. That's only going to get worse with age, my cholesterol I mean, not my love of butter.
And my evil metabolism slowed down by about 50 miles an hour. Here's a confession I've told few people because it's so awful: Right from when I turned 29 (last August) till I got pregnant in April, I gained 8 pounds! Eight pounds in 6 months! Didn't change my eating habits at all and was still working out 4-5 days a week for an hour or more each time. Just turned 29, that's all. Lousy metabolism!
Oh, and I STILL HAVE PIMPLES!!!!!! If I'm going to be old, can't I at least have a clear face? What the heck?
And I still haven't published a single thing! (Except for a poem in a totally random Canadian magazine, so that doesn't really count). I've got to finish all those novels I've started and work on publication. In fact, in my long life, I've accomplished nothing at all of significance, aside from having two children and raising them reasonably well (which is a pretty big accomplishment).
All you optimists out there will probably respond, "Be happy. Thirty is the prime of life. Wait till you're forty. Then your metabolism will really slow down, and your body will really not feel young and spry. Forget about ever running a half-marathon again then. Enjoy the life you have right now." Most of me realizes that this is true. I'm sure after awhile of being 30, I'll feel better about it. But right now, with those horrible numbers looming before me, I don't like it. I don't want to be over the hill. I don't want other 16 year olds looking at me and thinking, "Eww, she's old."
I think the only advantage to being 30 is that I'll be taken slightly more seriously. Once you're in your 30's, it's kind of like you've arrived, you're a real adult; not one of those people in her 20's, wavering between teenage-hood and adulthood.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Big Accomplishment

Over two years ago, for Christmas, Chad gave me a cookbook: Barefoot Contessa Family Style. I thought I would cook through it so I could learn a lot and become a better cook. This was long before anyone had ever heard of Julie and Julia, so don't think I'm just a big copy cat.
Well, two and a half years later, I'm done! Tonight, I cooked the last of 79 recipes! Now, if you're not familiar with the Barefoot Contessa, she does write easy, four-ingredient recipes that take 30 minutes to do. They're usually complicated, full of ingredients (often expensive), and take lots of cook time. So, I think this is quite an accomplishment. Chad has enjoyed it as well. The kids...well, they don't really care.
I've learned SO much cooking through this cookbook. I've learned what annis, fennel, rutabagas, stilton, endives, wheatberries, brioche, and tabbouleh are. (Many times throughout this endeavor, I had to ask the grocers what the heck something was and where to find it). And I've created many amazing dishes, such as buffalo wings, herb-roasted lamb, rosemary polenta, corn pudding, roasted winter vegetables, rum raisin rice pudding, and homemade cheesecake.
Here are recipes to some of my favorites, available online for you to print and try yourself:
curried chicken salad (the first time Chad tasted this, he said, "Oh, Hope, I think I'm falling in love with you all over again)
chicken stew with biscuits (this one is so amazing because it calls for 2 sticks of butter!)
linguine with shrimp scampi (this one is really easy)
baked "chips" (even my kids like this one)
raspberry cheesecake (OMG! This is TRULY incredible!)
Happy cooking, friends!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I dream of Ranch

I think I have an official pregnancy craving. I think about it night and day. I want chicken (breaded and fried of course) and french fries dipped in Ranch dressing. I've only had that once since I've been pregnant, with my friend Karen at Chick fil-A. But now I can't stop thinking about it. And since that's so unhealthy, a forbidden fruit, it makes it even more desirable.
Not just any old chicken strips will do, my friends. Not McDonald's nuggets; they're not even real chicken. And not the dinosaur-shaped nuggets from Costco that my children eat. I want high-quality chicken, deeply breaded, and fried just right. Like Chick fil-A, or Honey's, or even Wing Stop chicken wings. And Hidden Valley Ranch just won't do; I need restaurant Ranch. It's not as thick, and it's so much tastier.
So next time any of you want to go to Chick fil-A, make sure you call me. If I find out you went without me ...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mystery Happiness

Can you guess what it is?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fun with photo booth

Don't you just love Macs?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


OMG, can't wait for this to start!!!! Every year, several theaters throughout Orange County offer FREE kids' movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for 9 weeks during the summer. I love to go to the Spectrum and then let my kids play in the fountain near the food court (and of course get pizza). Here's the list for the Spectrum. I'm not sure if they show both movies on both days, or if they show the first listed one on Tuesday and the second on Wednesday. Usually, the first one is more for younger kids, and the second one is for kids a little older.
Irvine Spectrum 21 & IMAX
65 Fortune Drive
Irvine ,CA 92618
06/22/2010-06/23/2010Tale Of Despereaux - DP (G)
The Spy Next Door - DP (PG)
06/29/2010-06/30/2010Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - DP (G)
Shorts - DP (PG)
07/06/2010-07/07/2010Charlotte's Web - DP (G)
Imagine That - DP (PG)
07/13/2010-07/14/2010Kit Kittredge: American Girl - DP (G)
Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel- DP (PG)
07/20/2010-07/21/2010Space Chimps - DP (G)
Aliens In The Attic - DP (PG)
07/27/2010-07/28/2010Horton Hears A Who - DP (G)
Night At The Museum II - DP (PG)
08/03/2010-08/04/2010Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs - DP (PG)
Where The Wilds Things Are - DP (PG)
08/10/2010-08/11/2010Monsters Vs. Aliens - DP (PG)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop - DP (PG)
08/17/2010-08/18/2010Hotel For Dogs - DP (PG)
Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs - DP (PG)
08/24/2010-08/25/2010Madagascar 2 - DP (PG)
The Spiderwick Chronicles - DP (PG)

If you don't live near the Spectrum, try this website and find the closest ones to you:

Friday, May 14, 2010


Is anyone else super stressed out? And feel like you're busy ALL the time no matter what you do? I literally have not stopped moving since 6:10 am, when Benji woke up, but I feel like I'm not even close to getting my stuff done.
  • I'm behind two issues on our news magazine.
  • I have 4 more phone numbers to call for the first time for Ethan's preschool to ask for donations. And I left messages with the other 7 businesses, WHICH TOOK ME ALMOST AN HOUR, so I'll have to follow up with them again. Extremely obnoxious.
  • This morning I finished up two ugly giant display boards for the International Festival tomorrow. They look like a 2nd grader made them, and it looks like a sloppy 30 minutes of work, but no, I spent literally 2 1/2 hours on each one. That's right, 5 hours of work for an ugly board that looks cheesy. I'm a little bitter about this, yes.
  • Also this morning, I did finish writing thank you notes for Benji's birthday presents, so I guess that's good.
  • I'm in the process of reading two long websites about caring for our new guinea pigs. I have to read them, then sign a contract saying I read them. I estimate that will take me another 30 minutes to read them. Great.
  • I've been trying to clean the house for days ... literally. I can usually get one tiny area done, then it's either destroyed by children, or I get distracted by the hundreds of other things to do. I HAVE GOT TO finish cleaning this weekend. Our house looks like a tornado came through.
  • Oh, and there's the never-ending laundry! I put away two clean loads today that have been sitting in the basket for 4 days, but now I have two more loads to put away. Gosh, how I hate laundry. I will die of joy the day we have a washer and dryer in our house. But then I wouldn't ever get to experience the wonder of washing IN my house, so I guess I won't die. I'll just be giddy with happiness.
  • And tonight, I have to shop for ingredients for sadza and relish for the International Festival tomorrow.
  • On that note, I'll be at the International Festival tomorrow from 9 am till 3 pm. Then back at the Old Rec Ctr again for about 2 hours that night for the outdoor movie. I love my job, don't get me wrong, but on occasion, it makes me feel overwhelmed.
  • And I just spent 15 minutes writing this post. But that's okay, at least, it will be if at least 3 people read it; that would make it worthwhile.
Okay, so after all that complaining, I have a question. For those of you who feel balanced in your life, and who are able to keep up with your chores and housework and paperwork and bills and reading and general what-not, HOW DO YOU DO IT???? I need help, really; I feel like I'm drowning in busyness. And I don't want to be that way. I want to focus more on my kids and being an available mommy. Not a mommy who says, "Just a minute" or "Not right now; I'm busy" all the time. Who wants a mommy like that?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cutest Blog on the Block ... my foot!

I've tried three separate times to do a background on my blog from It won't work. I've tried it from Safari and from Firefox. I follow the directions exactly. What am I doing wrong? Someone help! My blog is so ugly and I want it to be cute like everyone else's.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie

Are you salivating already? I am. Here's all you need:
1 scant cup of skim milk
1 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp Ovaltine
1 banana
2-3 ice cubes if you want
I mix it all together in my Magic Bullet, but a blender would work just fine.
It's 320 calories, which is kind of a lot for breakfast, but it's so darn delectable, it will make you happy for the rest of the day.
Yes, you too can be THIS happy:

if you drink this smoothie.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Die, LOST, die!

Wow, I haven't blogged in forever. And that I'm finally doing it, it will not be a happy post. It will be a post of how much I hate LOST. Seriously, that show is so lame. It's so confusing, what with the alternate life and who's alive and who's impersonating who, and which dead people are showing up, etc, etc. I can't remember what happened in the previous show, so when I watch a new show, I ask Chad a hundred questions, and he gets irritated.
Okay, the alternate universe thing. WHAT. THE. HECK? Come on, writers of LOST, can't you do something better with your answer our questions about the show?
Oh, and all that advertised nonsense of "only 5 episodes left, questions will be answered" is such a lie. Instead of answering our questions, they bring in new characters (the Tina-Fey-wanna-be), blow up old ones (Nadya) instead of telling the secrets behind them, and create new mysteries.
And the thing about the show that bugs more than anything else is when the characters have hair in their faces. Okay, come on. In real life, no woman wandering around on a dessert island with no shampoo, high humidity, tracking through thick jungle, and fighting off attackers is really going to go around with her hair down...hanging in her eyes. I can't stand it. Take this for instance. Claire, get your hair out of your face!!!

And Kate, is this REALLY necessary? Obviously, you need to redo your ponytail because half of your hair has fallen out and is BLURRING YOUR VISION.

And Sawyer's just as bad as the girls. I don't even know how he and Kate can kiss with all that hair in their faces.
The saddest thing is that I've wasted 5 years of my life on this show, I'm SO ready for it to be over, but I just know that the writers are going to have some super lame ending and that they won't answer all the questions. We'll be left with our mouths hanging open, our eyebrows up, and saying, "What? THAT was the ending??" The only solution: die, LOST.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Winner

I had a very hard time deciding who should win the blog give away, my cookbook. All the comments were very nice, and I just can't pick one over the other. So I've decided to give the cookbook to the first person who made a comment, Emily W. Congratulations, Emily! All the rest of you should invite yourselves over to Emily's house sometime for some good cookin'! :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Super Cool Giveaway!

Last year, I spent from January to September creating new recipes, testing them, taking pictures of the finished product, and then eating delicious food. What I was doing was creating a cookbook for a Christmas present for family and close friends. I got the idea from Michelle who did it the previous year.
My recipe book has 79 recipes including appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian, desserts, and main dishes. There are color photos of every single recipe. It's valued at $19; that's what it cost me to make each one. It's pretty darn cool if I do say so myself.
I have one left, and the bad news is that it's sitting un-used and unappreciated on my bookshelf, but the good news is that one of you can have it! Leave me a comment convincing me that you should be the lucky winner. If you live away from Irvine, I'll mail it to you.
I will decide the winner on Sunday, March 21st.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Whine Online

Today, I do not want to be a mother (which is really ironic because in my last post, I was feeling so grateful for all the wonderful things God has given me). I really do love my kids, don't get me wrong, but lately, I'm so frustrated with Ethan. I'm almost at my wit's end with him. He seems like such an angry child lately. For example, when we're playing games, I let him win about half the time (sometimes more); but when he doesn't win, he screams "I WANTED TO WIN!" and throws things around. He'll grab a toy from Benji, and when Benji cries, Ethan yells "STOP CRYING, BENJI!" He's very disrespectful to Chad and me, saying things like "I will never come to dinner. I will never eat that. I will never go upstairs. I will never take a bath." He is disciplined, sometimes with a time out, sometimes with a loving but serious talking-to, sometimes with a spanking. No matter what the discipline, it seems to make him more angry.
Someone told me that around this age (4), they go through a very selfish phase. That's fine, but I still have to teach him not to be so selfish and to be respectful.
What's the root problem? Does he feel like I don't love him enough? I tell him more than once a day that I love him. I try my hardest to be patient and loving at all times (even when I discipline).
If we're not at Disneyland or watching a movie or if he's not at preschool, Ethan asks me constantly, "Mommy, will you play with me? Mommy, will you play with me?" I really hate the imagination play he loves to do. Here's how it goes: we each get a transformer, a Lego man, or a Batcave inhabitant; we make them talk to each other, a bad guy comes along, they fight off the bad guy, they talk some more, the bad guy comes back, they fight him off again, blah blah blah. It's SO BORING! But I do it because he loves it. When he asks me to play with him, I'll set the timer, and say, "I'll play with you for 20 minutes, then I have to..." When the time is up, he begs for more and gets upset when I say no.
My kids are not into crafts, coloring, play-do, puzzles, Candy Land. It's all imagination play with Ethan, and I despise it.
WHAT DO I DO? How do I play with him without hating it while I'm doing it? How do I teach this child that it's okay not to win? That it's not okay to throw things around? How to be respectful to his parents and to other children?
Any advice appreciated. If you have a lot to say, call me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dear God

I don't thank you nearly enough. I don't praise you nearly enough. I don't appreciate you nearly enough. And for those, I am sorry. But let me begin to fix that right now.
Thank for you my children. I have never had a miscarriage (that I know of); I have never experienced infertility; I have had two wonderful vaginal births. I have never lost a child. Thank you that my children are alive, healthy, happy, and cognizant. Thank you for the unexplainable joy that I experience through them. My life is so much fuller and beautiful because of them. Thank you.
Thank you for my husband. Thank you that he is living, healthy, enjoys being home with his family. Thank you that he loves you, seeks to serve you, desires to be a holy man. Thank you that he is faithful and loyal and that he loves me and has patience with me. The longer I live and the more lousy husbands I meet, the more I'm grateful to you for giving me a husband as loving and helpful as Chad.
Thank for you always providing for us. I should never complain about our finances because you have never let us down in that area. Especially after reading an article about the devastation in Haiti, I'm so grateful that I have a standing home with a roof and walls. A kitchen with electricity, two window units, a heater. I get to take a shower every day. How much do I take that for granted?! We eat meat several times a week; we don't have to eat the same foods every day like some people do. We have tons of toys for our children, a computer, shelves of books, a tv and DVD player. My children have never wanted for a clean diaper, diaper rash cream, food to eat, or clean clothes. Thank you so much for all these material possessions that make my life easy and simple and comfortable.
And finally, but certainly not lease, thank you for life. For the promise of eternal life, the promise of being in your presence for ever! The promise of seeing loved ones again, of a perfect body, of no pain. I will lack nothing; everything will be complete. I usually take for granted that you "sent your son to save us from our sins." Then I stop and think about it. Would I give up one of my children for someone? No. But you did because you love me that much. You love ME! You sent Christ to cover for my sins, so that I can be with you someday. I look forward to that, to being in my forever home, near to you. Thank you for forgiving me.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mini-van advice desperately needed

Okay, folks, it's for real this time. Our old car (a 1988 BTW, so when I say "old," I really mean old) is at death's doorstep. We're going to get a new car! Very exciting. Anyway, who of you have mini-vans or non gas-guzzling SUVs? What kind is it? What do you like or dislike about it?
We're going to do this soon before the Oldsmobile slips into the grave, so send your advice now!

Monday, February 1, 2010

136,000 reasons I should get pregnant by August

I heard the other day that by the time the average woman turns 30, she only has 12 % of her eggs left! Granted, that's 136,000 eggs, but still...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Worse than a horror movie

That's right; Halloween 2, Scream, The Others ... They got nothin' on me. I took on Rena's challenge and found some horrifying pictures from high school. Be prepared. I've warned you. Here's one of me in home ec class. That's my friend Sarah who's making bunny ears on me. Isn't she a great friend. By the way, I'm NOT posting the picture of Sarah and I on "twin day," wearing matching vests. It's just too shocking for words.
And here's me next to my brothers, whom I have hidden in order to spare them the humiliation I am now subjecting myself to. Don't ask me what the heck I was doing in this picture, because I wouldn't be able to tell you.
And this one is truly awful. I had been crying, so my face is extra pink and splotchy.
HOWEVER, I must not have looked that bad. I think I just didn't know how to dress. What with the tapered jeans and the baggy shirts, I mean. Here's me at senior prom with my date, Jess. That was my first date ever ... in my life. See, I don't look terrible here, do I? Just a little goofy.
And now that you've had a good laugh and your sides are aching, I pass on the challenge to you! Find an equally terrifying picture of yourself from high school and post it on your blog. I want to see those 80's styles, people! Bring it on!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Oh my gosh, SNOW in Texas!!

Here's Benji trying on a beanie before we go to Texas.
Here's Kate and Ethan in the holiday spirit making a gingerbread house. Cleaning up after this was a .... a difficult task.
Christmas Eve, we flew to Texas, and it was snowing!!! There were about 3 inches of snow in Grammy's back yard. We attempted a snowman, but the snow was too powdery and didn't stick. This is the best we could do:
Not very impressive, is it?
The next day, Christmas Day, the snow had all stuck. It was a white Christmas! Here's Ethan running through the snow:
And who are these fine-looking people?
That afternoon, the snow was beginning to melt, so it stuck very nicely, and we made this fabulous 4 1/2 foot all fellow. Chad added ears to it, so it became a snow bear. Then he added antennae, so it was a snow-bear-alien:
Isn't he handome? His smile and eyebrows are made out of almonds and cashews.
Wow, that is an amazing snowman:
Two days after Christmas, we went to see some ice sculptures in Grapevine. My favorite was this amazing manger scene. You can't really tell from the picture, but they are life-sized sculptures. It was really cool.
Chad and I had our SEVENTH anniversary on the 28th. Here's a nice sign that Shonda and Amanda made for us:
One day, my family all went to a state park. Here we are having a jolly time, except for Ethan:
Here's my incredibly strange brother and his fiance Amanda. She's super cool.
Ethan turned FOUR on Jan 1! Here's Ethan wearing one of his birthday presents.
And Shonda and I created this impressive gingerbread clock tower with connecting cobblestone bridge.